A mixed reaction Eldridge residency issue splits townspeople


RUMFORD – Reaction was mixed Wednesday afternoon on Tuesday’s court decision requiring Town Manager Stephen Eldridge to move to town immediately or be terminated from the job he has held for more than two years.

Al Gerase thinks it’s a shame that Eldridge may have to leave the town.

“I think he’s a victim of the nasty politics going on,” he said.

Penny Sicotte agreed.

“I’m furious. He’s doing a good job and he’s not a ‘yes’ man and they don’t like it,” she said.

Others believe the town charter is the town’s constitution so it should be adhered to, although they feel Eldridge has been caught in a series of unfortunate events.

“I’m following the constitution of the town. I feel it is unfortunate the way he was hired. I don’t know if it was an error of the selectmen or a misunderstanding.

It’s hard on both sides,” Marie Boudreau said. “The back-biting has been unhealthy for the town.”

Rita Thorne also believes the charter must be followed, but wonders why residency wasn’t an issue for so many years.

“It’s too bad it wasn’t looked into at the time,” she said.

For Cheryl Conant, it doesn’t matter either way, while Rhonda Blood believes the town manager should live in the town.

“He just should,” she said. “He should live in the town he serves.”

Lloyd Webster agrees.

“If he is to support the town, then he should live here,” Webster said.

Mary Anne Richard said she feels badly for Eldridge’s situation.

“I don’t think he should have to leave. He’s done a good job,” she said.

Paris Superior Court Justice Robert E. Crowley determined that the town’s charter must be upheld following a suit filed by local attorney Thomas Carey and 19 other residents. The 54-year-old town charter requires the town manager and people holding other appointed positions to reside in the town.

An attempt to amend the charter in December was defeated by voters. The amendment, if it had passed, would have given selectmen discretion over a town manager’s residency.

Selectmen, the town lawyer, and Eldridge will meet in a closed session next Tuesday to discuss what steps to take.